Winter not only brings cold weather outside, but also low humidity inside, resulting in dry air. That dry air can lead to a scratchy throat and skin. It can also damage wood floors and furniture.
The solution is to employ humidifiers to ensure the relative humidity level in your home stays within 30% to 50%. Now, you could use one or several portable humidifiers that can humidify specific areas of your home. They are relatively inexpensive and can be moved from room to room.
However, the better alternative is to invest in a whole house humidifier. Here are a few reasons:
- The big one is they humidify the entire house. Even if you rarely use the room, you don’t want the dry air to damage wood floors or furniture.
- They require very little maintenance.
- They improve indoor air quality throughout the house.
- They are quiet.
- They are not in plain sight.
Getting the Right Size
No matter what type of whole house humidifier you buy (see below), you need the correct size. That is a factor of two things:
- Building volume. The building volume is measured in cubic feet – length x width x height. For example, if your home is 4,000 square feet and the ceilings are 10 feet high, you have 40,000 cubic feet to humidify.
- Building envelope. This factors in the draftiness of your home. Generally older homes are draftier. Quality of insulation and windows are also considered.
Types of Whole House Humidifiers
There are three types of whole house humidifiers. One type, self-contained humidifiers, operate independently of HVAC systems and are the only option for homes that use radiant or ductless heat. They use a fan to distribute air, as opposed to ducts.
Here are the other types, appropriate for homes heated with a furnace.
- Evaporative humidifiers supply water to a humidifier pad. As the warm, dry air coming out of the furnace passes across the pad the heat evaporates the water. This adds moisture into the air that is then circulated into your home. There are two types of evaporative humidifiers, differentiated by how they distribute air.
- Bypass humidifiers distribute air through a bypass duct. This humidifier can be installed on the supply or return duct, and if you do not need the humidifier running, you can close the damper.
- Powered humidifiers use a fan as opposed to a bypass duct and connect to the supply side of the ductwork. These generally provide a better distribution of moisture.
- Steam humidifiers store water in a canister. When the humidity is low, a heating element in the humidifier uses electricity to boil the water, turning it into steam which is distributed through ducts into your living space. These can run whether the furnace is on or not, but the blower must be on. The humidifier will automatically turn off if the water level drops below the heating element.
Which is right for you? Steam humidifiers are more efficient; evaporative units are cheaper. Here is a little table to guide you.
|$400 – $800
|20% to 30% of water converts into humidity
|90% of water converts into humidity
|Lower, since they use little electricity; however, the furnace has to run
|Higher, since they require electricity
Some other features you might want to consider, even at extra cost:
- Automatic humidity presets to keep the humidity constant at your desired level.
- Overflow protection to ensure water does not overflow.
- Mounting frames to ease installation into ductwork.
- Corrosion-resistant housing to prevent corrosion and extend the unit’s life.
Contact Ravinia Plumbing for Whole House Humidifiers
Ravinia Plumbing’s HVAC professionals can help you select and then install a whole house humidifier to meet your needs. Our customers have relied on us since 1928 (that’s 96 years!) for quality products, knowledgeable technicians, and superior service, including 24/7/365 emergency service. That is why we’ve made a name for ourselves as the most trusted plumbing, sewer, heating and air conditioning, and electrical companies in Chicagoland. Contact Ravinia Plumbing today to schedule an appointment.